You’re probably so accessible that you’re taking three more calls or emails in that you send out. If that’s the case, then your day is besieged by reactions, instead of getting control of your priorities and remaining goal-centric in your actions. To remedy this, consider your intake process for help/service/sales requests. You may need a filter to profile the request, and insulate yourself from low priority non-urgent items that ambush your best use of time.
Strategic Direction: Setup the emergency room model with an intake system for filtering and dispatching help requests. Just like a hospital, a nurse performs an initial assessment as a lens or filter for the emergency room, to determine who to call for help and how to help the patient. This way the patient wins, and the right doctor responds to the right issue efficiently.
To get started, you’ll need use a single maintenance day (24 hour thematic work period) to work on your business and setup this system. Please schedule this day now, and gather up your team to help you implement.
Step 1: Make a VIP list of the top 10 clients that you should drop everything and take their call when they need help. These accounts and individuals will affect your future most and should be given urgency as well as vital importance in your response to them.
– Give this list to your support staff to keep handy when they’re taking incoming calls.
– Anyone not on this list shouldn’t be getting through the steel curtain.
Step 2: Make an Instructional Voicemail to free you up. Use your voice mail as a tool to gather the right data from a voicemail call.
Change your outgoing phone voice message to this:
“Thank you for calling. If you’ve heard this before, bypass this message by hitting the # key. Due to a high level of demand for our services, these messages are checked once daily, and calls will be returned within 48 hours, after 3pm weekdays or (between x and x on x days), to ensure the highest quality of service and attention to our clients. If this call is urgent, for faster response, please email urgent(company name)@(yahoo; gmail) or xyzcompany.com. In your message please give specific details as to the purpose of your call and the best time to reach you.” Most often, our world class account managers have the right attributes and expertise to suit your needs better than I do..(deflect here)
For processing, contact Sheri at (phone) ext. X
For customer service, contact Donna at (phone) ext. X
For underwriting contact Julie…
For X, contact Y.
*Note: Always try to centralize multiple message touch points into one format, such as email or fax. When put in writing, it slows the sender down to think about what they want, instead of voice. Voice messages tend to miss the detail levels to lessen the “tagging” that so often occurs by phone messages when contact isn’t made”. Fax or email slows down someone to consider in one shot what they need and why. It induces an easier interaction with less effort for both parties.
1. Delegate your assistant to retrieve all the email@example.com emails and sort them for you. Only forward the ones on your VIP list.
2. Set up an auto response on your firstname.lastname@example.org email that says: in the Subject: Thank you for your email.
Due to a high level of demand for our services, we process emails once per day and ensure a response within 24 hours. We do this to ensure the highest quality of service to our clients and patrons. If your message is urgent, please email urgent@….. or contact the person best at handling your needs: (then deflect)
For processing email Jennifer at (email address)
For customer service email Donna at (email address)
3. Setup an auto response on your email@example.com…email that says: Thank you for your urgent email. We are now processing it and will respond by 5pm today. If after 5pm, tomorrow by 12 noon. We do this to provide the highest quality of service to our clients and patrons. Thank you for your continued teamwork!
Step 3: Organize your Intake Rotation. Break down three sections during the take for intake call/email activity – morning, mid-day, and afternoon-early evening. Determine whose going to be on deck dedicated to the intake protocols. Setup call forward on the phones of others who are not “active”, so the designated person on-call is the reception area for service calls and active response-giving.
– Retrieve the call
– Ask the purpose of the call
– Advocate a next step
– Enter the note/message into a system where team-members can retrieve it (an email is most basic)
– Notify person needing to act, if not yourself
– Write clear instructions and expectations
Step 4: Schedule a “return call” block 1-2 periods daily for offense-centric return call activity. Make it a focused work habit to stay in the lanes of these return call times and exercise your self-control muscle outside these bounds—no fowls!!! Be strict about it! You’re better to have a few calls go to voicemail and stay on purpose instead of being reactive and responsive and having zero traction on your priorities during the day you’ve structured your time and attention around.
Step 5: Setup a decision-making flow with 4 options in response to income service calls.
– Delete it. It’s not worth the effort. Decide to negate it.
– Delegate it. Relay it to the appropriate team-mate with a unique ability and/or work description correlated with the call purpose.
– Delay it. Schedule a call back or next step and let the other party know when and how, to settle their expectations.
– Do it. If you can handle it in two minutes, handle it. Putting it away later may take longer to rethink or remember what’s involved, so consider the two minute rule and handle it, especially if it’s 1) what you’re best at, and 2) something that gives you energy doing it.
Copyright 2014 John Davidson